Synopsis: In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well.
Details: "Bound" by Donna Jo Napoli, 184 pages, 3.5 stars on Amazon
My Thoughts: Pretty cover! I'd like to see something incorporating the whole thing with being bound, but it's very nice regardless.
I had mixed feelings on this one. I'm generally not the biggest fan of books based on fairy tales, especially those that try to make them modern fairy tales. Although this one took place in the past, it was rather predictable. I understand that might be the point of basing a book on a fairy tale in the first place, but I didn't find any places whatsoever where there was a plot twist I didn't see coming.
I also feel that the characters could stand to be a little more multi-dimensional. For instance, Xing Xing was relatively flat. All we really know about her is that she loved her father and mother, and she quietly rebels with her love for calligraphy and poetry. Her stepmother was rather lacking as well. Unless I missed something, there isn't really an explanation for her actions more than that she was just mean-spirited or something. Xing Xing's stepsister was interesting, but I didn't get much of a sense for her either.
The story was very simple and makes for a light read. I guess it's pretty good for older elementary students and younger middle school students, but I like more weight in what I read.
On the flip side, the one thing I thought was really quite well done in this book was the whole thing with the bound feet. The horrifying old custom was portrayed excellently; I remember stories in my family of my great-great-grandparents having to go through this, but it never really clicked with me how painful it has to be until I read this book. The scene with the cleaver made me cringe, not so much because I was squeamish (which I am, but that's beside the point), but how unhesitating the stepmother was and the mentions of it being common practice.
All in all, it was okay, but not something I would really recommend. Three smilies out of five.